February 8, 2019 / 5:09 PM / 5 months ago

Ex-beauty queen accuses Costa Rican Nobel winner Arias of abuse

Costa Rica's former president and 1987 Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias, gives a speech during the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Central America Peace Agreement, at the National theatre in San Jose, September 12, 2012. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

SAN JOSE (Reuters) - A former Miss Costa Rica beauty queen has filed a formal complaint saying the country’s ex-president, Oscar Arias, sexually assaulted her in 2015, adding to a growing number of women lodging accusations against the renowned statesman.

Ex-beauty pageant winner Yazmin Morales told Reuters on Friday that Arias forced himself on her at his San Jose home, after he had contacted her via social media.

“He grabbed me, forcibly got close to my body, and then with one of his hands he touched my breasts over my clothes and kissed me against my will,” said Morales, repeating accusations first reported by Costa Rican media.

“I was in shock. I didn’t expect anything like that from someone so well-known and someone I admired very much,” she added.

Gloriana Valladares, a lawyer representing Arias, said the defense had received a copy of the new complaint after learning about it in the media. Valladares said Arias, 78, would not comment out of respect for due process.

Anti-nuclear activist Alexandra Arce was the first woman to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the two-time president, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role negotiating an end to civil wars in Central America. Arias has denied that claim through his lawyer.

With Morales, at least six women have said Arias harassed or assaulted them in what has become one of the most prominent examples of the #MeToo movement in Latin America.

The Costa Rican prosecutor’s office confirmed it received a new sexual abuse complaint against Arias on Thursday night, saying the new complaint would be added to the earlier investigation. Only Arce and Morales have so far filed formal complaints.

Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Writing by David Alire Garcia and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Dan Grebler

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